The Farfarer: one who travels far.

I’ve been harping on a lot about trailers recently. So I figured I should also mention the Farfarer, which I had the opportunity to try out in Santa Cruz, just after my visit to the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in March.

I have to be honest and say I only rode it for a couple of days, with a relatively light load, as I was making the most of an unexpected opportunity to take it for a spin. And, I should add that the model I borrowed was built for 26in or skinny-ish 700c tyres, rather than the voluminous 29er rubber I was running on the Ogre – which resulted in some clearance issues.

Still, despite my limited time, I was quite taken by the Farfarer. It’s light in weight (just 4.3kg, or 9.5lbs) and simple in design, with a coupling that allows the trailer to be split into two for ease of packing or multi-modal travel. The hitch – while not being as easy to use as that on Tout Terrain’s Mule – uses a delrin bushing that’s supremely straightforward in its engineering, with very little to go wrong as a result. Spares are featherweight to carry too.

Like most singlewheel trailers, the Farfarer is rated to around the 30kg mark (70lbs) – I didn’t have anything like that amount during my short tour so I can’t comment on how it would feel. For the style of riding I do and the gear I carry (namely, my laptop, and the rough and tumble trails I drag it across) I’d spec a wider tyre than the one fitted, to offer more cushion. This said, the 20in, high pressure model rolled extremely nicely on the coastal highway – which leads me to believe this trailer would be perfect for adding extra capacity to a road bike, if that’s the only bike you have to tour on.

With its exposed but easily repaired Cordura load bag, there’s a nod to the Carradice school of aesthetics. In fact, the bag also acts as a hammock of sorts, helping to stabilise the trailer. Knowing the kind of conditions I always find myself in, I’d liked to have drain holes worked into the sling to limit water pooling during monsoonal downpours.

The bag itself is versatile though – it can hold your groceries or nest your backpack. Light objects, like a roll mat, can be strapped to the rails. If you’re looking to combine a hike into the wilderness as part of your bicycle tour, this trailer could well work out to be an interesting option.

Lastly, for those who like to support small businesses, the fact that the Farfarer is lovingly crafted in the backyard of an old, ramshackle house in sleepy Santa Cruz, may well appeal too.

All the spec is to be found here. The price is $400, plus shipping.

Update: Quentin mentioned he’s now designed a longer ‘stem’ with a higher rise for more clearance with FS/29er bikes.

DSC_2745.jpg

The Ogre and the Wayfarer. I've come to appreciate the extra stability that a seatpost-mounted trailer affords. As a seeker of singletrack, the downside to this design is that it cuts corners during tight turns. As you can see, clearances for a 29er wheel are a little tight, with the rear wheel rubbing occasionally on the canvas in certain situations. However, for general dirt road touring, this is unlikely to be an issue.

Although inspired by the dirt roads of the Californian mountains, the Wayfarer's designed for both on and off road riding: its elegant, curved chromo tubes even offer a little passive suspension. I tried an older version without couplings that would be tricky to box. The newer version can be split into two pieces.

Leaving Santa Cruz with Daniel and Matt, via a singletrack running beside the old railway. The line was originally used to transport strawberry crops to San Francisco - and later redwood lumber.

Unearthing dirt roads amongst Santa Cruz's towering redwoods is a highlight of any visit to California.

Sadly I didn’t get the chance to write up this beautiful ride from Santa Cruz to San Francisco, following dirt roads when we could find them – but luckily Daniel did. We have Quentin, half of the team behind the Farfarer, to thank for route advice in traversing this serenely beautiful part of California. For sure, it’s an area I hope to return to.

If I get a chance to try this trailer out in more detail, I’ll be sure to post some more thoughts. But in the meantime, have a look at the website to get more of a feel for what it’s about. And be sure to check out Quentin’s nuggets of wisdom if you’re thinking of touring the dirt roads of Northern California – his notes will have you itching to head west, to ride amongst the towering redwoods and along the windswept Pacific Coast.

15 thoughts on “The Farfarer: one who travels far.

  1. gyatsola

    That trailer looks a lovely, simple design. I wonder though would the lack of rigidity mean it could be quite awkward if heavily loaded? And surely a waterproof cover would be as useful as drainholes?

    Reply
    1. Gary Blakley

      Cass, can you describe the hitching/unhitching process? Hopefully it doesn’t involve removing the seatpost each time.

      Reply
      1. While Out Riding Post author

        TO be honest, the easiest way is probably to remove the seat post. I’m not keen on that method though, as I don’t like having to set the height and get the saddle nose straight each time. And a seat post can (or I guess should) be greasy.

        The other system involves sliding out the delrin rod from the hitch. There’s a little allen key button on either side to stop it working its way out while you’re riding – in practise though this never happens, and the one I tried had the rod exposed. Anyhow, you have to work the rod out, which can be a bit awkward as it gets jammed in there. I’m sure with a little practise would get easier – Quentin was more adept at it than I was. Certainly, it’s not as effortless as the Mule.

        You can see the allen key button and delrin rod here. What’s not shown in the other delrin bushing, which sleeves around the seat post to provide the second pivot point.

        Reply
    2. While Out Riding Post author

      The frame of the trailer itself is rigid, there’s just a little give in those long tubes. The bag is soft though, so I’m not sure how that would feel.

      It does mean its prone to rubbing on rocks if the terrain you’re riding on is particularly lumpy – though you can hoist it up a bit by running a strap across the top to pull it in.

      On the whole though, I think the trailer’s designed for dirt/gravel/washboard roads, rather than really technical terrain. Which is what most people would end up riding the majority of the time, I think.

      Reply
    3. While Out Riding Post author

      Oh, and I think a waterproof cover would be ideal. The Mule has one that’s integrated neatly in, with elasticated edges and a velcro tab. It protects stuff from getting dirty too, and is bright yellow for visibility.

      I’d still like a few drainholes though, as you might just run a waterproof roll bag in there. It’s rare that waterproof covers can withstand a real monsoon…

      Reply
    1. Gary Blakley

      That’s great news! It’s cool that with just a change in the stem the trailer will work for big wheels. Doing this will move the pivot point back slightly but I’d be surprised if it’s noticeable in the way the bike handles.

      I don’t see any photos of how the frame breaks apart for transport. Can you describe what type of fittings he uses?

      I would think the bag, by being soft, and the long tubes flexing over bumps would reduce the stress on the wheel dramatically, sort of a mini suspension.

      Too bad the owner will have to fabricate their own rain cover.

      Reply
      1. Gary Blakley

        Ah, I just realized it will still pivot sideways from the seatpost. The vertical pivot will move up and back. That should have no affect on handling.

        Reply
  2. bicyclerust

    I used this trailer while I was in Baja and loved it! I was carrying a surfboard on it, as well as bunch of other gear.
    I don’t think a water proof cover is really needed, as the simplicity of this trailer is what makes it so bomb proof. I just put all my stuff in a dry bag, then had that sit in the trailer. No problem. I would say at times I had 30kgs in it with no problem. I was not on tight single track, but on pretty bad roads which where only 4×4 access. If I had to get off my bike to push it was though no fault of the trailer.
    Thanks for the interesting blog.
    Matt.

    Reply
  3. While Out Riding Post author

    I heard about your biking/surfing tour, Tom. Sounds great!
    Thanks for your input.
    I think weather proofing for drier climes isn’t such a big issue. But I do think that if you’re headed to wetter parts of the world – or on a long tour where you’re bound to hit a monsoon season or two – it would be useful. I like the idea of throwing a lightweight pack in the back – it would be nice to protect it from road spray and pooling water.

    Reply
  4. pmac

    I bought a 2nd generation farfarer trailer a couple of months ago. I’ve used it with a 29er on dirt roads/trails and a steel road bike on paved roads with a 60L drybag carrying about 40 lbs of gear. Lots of room to strap additional bags onto as needed. Very functional, lightweight and an elegant design. It works great! I did modify the seatpost mounting system by replacing the original delrin rod with a slightly longer delrin rod and inserted .25 inch wire lock pins on either side to make removal from the hitch alot easier. It was difficult to just pull the rod out after removing the c-clamp system that came with the trailer since there was no good place to grip the rod. I have also thought about putting a couple of drain holes in the bag as well, but haven’t done that yet. The frame breaks down in the middle and slides in together. Once the 2 sections are joined there are two 5 mm allen bolts on each rail to lock the sections together. It has been very sturdy. If you are going to use it on more than one bike, make sure to get a delrin bushing for each seatpost diameter.

    Quentin was very responsive to my questions. I do think he should update the photos on webpage to show his current design.

    Reply
    1. Joshua Muir

      Hey There- Just came accross this blog post on the Farfarer Trailer- I took over building the trailers at the Frances Workshop a little over a year ago. For more info, check out the Francescycles.com website!

      Looking at all the comments is interesting- Here are some upgrades:

      Unhitching is easy and quick! (delrin rod pulls out on a cord and is held in by a circlip)

      There is a drain hole in the bag now!

      We are making a rainfly!

      There is a spot for a flag (which we sell also)

      There is an optional fender.

      http://www.francescycles.com

      Thanks!

      Josh

      Reply

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